DID YOU KNOW?
The Upper Usutu, together with the Upper Vaal, Northern Drakensberg and Maloti Drakensberg supports South Africa's economic hub, the Gauteng city-region and more than 13 million people. It supplies up to 44% of the water used by Eskom for cooling its coal-fired power stations.
Commercial forestry is the main economic activity in the area. The area loses almost 10% of its water to invasive alien trees. That water could be used to supply Gauteng.
Supplies water to
Alien Invasive Vegetation
Invasive alien trees that have spread through large parts of our country consume more than 2.9% of available water resources. In some catchments, water losses are higher than 25%. These losses contribute to biodiversity loss by crowding out indigenous species, devastating surrounding ecosystem.
Climate change is predicted to exacerbate risks associated with water scarcity and quality. Models show that the western parts of the country will receive less rain, whereas the central and eastern areas will receive more variable rainfall with more intense rainfall events.
Acid mine drainage from coal and gold mining areas has had devastating impacts on water resources, with acidification of rivers and streams and elevated metal levels making the water unfit for human or animal consumption. Many of our catchments are already heavily polluted by mining and an estimated R30 billion is required to clean South Africa's nearly 6000 abandoned mines. Only 8% of all coal deposits in South Africa occur in Water Source Areas. Coal is plentiful in South Africa while water is scarce, so coal mining should be kept out of these areas to ensure they continue to provide clean water to the people living downstream.
Unsustainable land use practices pose a major threat to ecosystems and the livelihood of local communities. It damages flood plains, river banks and wetlands, reducing the regulating capacity of catchments and increasing erosion and sediment loads. This raises the risk of flooding.
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